There are few areas of music more overcrowded – and therefore hard to stand out within – than the world of dance pop. Most artists in this realm seem content to pump out a few standard dance tracks, then get on with their lives or move into production. Xavier Toscano, however, seems truly dedicated to trying to make dance pop music with real personality.
Xavier Toscano has an odd blend of dance, rock, R&B, soul, reggae, and a whole lot more. When he's at his best, such as in the down-n-dirty Naz-T-Nice, he sounds almost like a modern update of Prince with a tad of Michael Jackson, with some great funk beats layered with more modern production and a mix of ranges in Toscano's voice.
The reggae-tinged Do It All Tonight stands out as well, making for a popping dance track that sounds somewhat like a male version of Santigold. He busts out some nice rhymes as well, flowing smoothly between styles while allowing the production to carry it through. I was also impressed with Toscano's performance in Smoke and Mirrors, really selling the in-song role of a sleazy LA exec selling stardom.
Toscano doesn't do so well when he's doing more traditional club music. Tracks like Threw Me Away and Sunrise are competent for the genre, but fail to really distinguish themselves. That said, the bonus track To The Sky has a nice bit of deception: it begins sounding like a standard, heavily-autotuned dance track, before introducing a bevy of chiptune instruments that broaden its sound to something almost cinematic.
Whether Xavier Toscano becomes a major name in dance music is mostly up to him. He's got a great voice, surprising range, and a fun list of inspirations. If he keeps pushing himself creatively, he's got a big future.